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May 11, 2016
Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti Named to 2016–2017 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College
Press Contact:
Mark Primoff
CCS Bard Contact:
Ramona Rosenberg

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, May 5, 2016- The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) and the Human Rights Project at Bard College announced today that Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, architects and critics based in Beit Sahour, Palestinian Territories, have been selected as the third recipients of the Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism.

Made possible through a five-year grant from the Keith Haring Foundation, the Haring Fellowship is an annual award for a scholar, activist, or artist to teach and conduct research in the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project. Hilal and Petti will take up their one-year appointment in September 2016, and spend the spring semester of 2017 teaching at the College. They succeed the New Delhi–based artist and curator Shuddhabrata Sengupta, who held the fellowship for 2015–16, and the first recipient, Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk.

Hilal and Petti’s work moves between art, architecture, and pedagogy. They are founding members and codirectors of the Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR), an architectural office and artist residency program in Beit Sahour that combines conceptual speculations and architectural interventions. Alongside art and architectural practice, they are also engaged in critical pedagogy, notably as founders of Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

They describe their practice as taking place in a range of contexts: “in built architectural structures, in the formation of critical learning environments, in interventions that challenge dominant collective narratives, in the production of new political imaginations, and in the formation of civic spaces.” They have exhibited their work at many venues internationally, including the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales, 31st Bienal de São Paulo, Red Cat in Los Angeles, Creative Time in New York City, and 2015 Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan, among many others.

Long before the current “refugee crisis,” Hilal and Petti focused their imagination and energy on the lives and representations of refugees, and explored ways of creating, in their words, “different social, political and spatial relationships between people, state and territory beyond the liberal notion of citizenship.” Their recent architectural projects include the design of a girls school in the Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem, a “Concrete Tent” in Dheisheh refugee camp (a pavilion that they say “embodies the contradiction of the permanent temporariness of Palestinian refugees”), and a public square in Fawwar camp, near Hebron.

The Fawwar public square was featured on the front page of The New York Times in September 2014, where Michael Kimmelman wrote that, “years in the making, it has stirred some profound debates … about hot-button topics like the role of women and the right of return. Along with headline sites like Tahrir Square in Cairo and Gezi Park in Istanbul, it’s another example, small and off the radar, of how even the most unlikely public space can become a testing ground for entrenched political authority and the social status quo.”

In 2010, Hilal and Petti received the Prince Claus Award, which honored DAAR for its “nontraditional approach to development in conflict and postconflict situations, for providing valuable speculation on the future realities of disputed territories, for its critical challenge to outdated urban planning theories based on a more peaceful world, and for highlighting the role of architecture and visualization in creating and altering the frontiers of reality.”

“We are delighted to welcome Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal to Bard. They demonstrate the intellectual courage and curiosity, combined with a drive for change, that we hope will inspire the students and faculty at Bard,” said Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS Bard.

“The Haring Fellowship honors the life and work of a courageous activist who could draw like no one before him,“ said Thomas Keenan, director of Bard’s Human Rights Project. "Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal are rooted firmly in that tradition: critically sharp, practically engaged, theoretically adventurous, and rich in imagination and provocation.”

About the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College and the Human Rights Project at Bard College

Bard College seeks to realize the best features of American liberal arts education, enabling individuals to think critically and act creatively based on a knowledge and understanding of human history, society, and the arts. Two pioneering programs developed under this mission are the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project.

The Human Rights Project, founded at Bard in 1999, developed the first interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in human rights in the United States. The Project maintains a special interest in freedom of expression and the public sphere, and through teaching, research, and public programs is committed to exploring the too-often neglected cultural, aesthetic, and representational dimensions of human rights discourse.

CCS Bard was founded in 1990 as an exhibition and research center for the study of late 20th-century and contemporary art and culture and to explore experimental approaches to the presentation of these topics and their impact on our world. Since 1994, the Center for Curatorial Studies and its graduate program have provided one of the world’s most forward-thinking teaching and learning environments for the research and practice of contemporary art and curatorship. Broadly interdisciplinary, CCS Bard encourages students, faculty, and researchers to question the critical and political dimension of art, its mediation, and its social significance.

Since 2009, CCS Bard and the Human Rights Project have collaborated on a series of seminars, workshops, research projects, and symposia aimed at exploring the intersections between human rights and the arts, and doing so in a manner that takes neither term for granted but uses their conjunction to raise critical, foundational questions about each. While academic in nature, this research and teaching nevertheless draws heavily on the realm of practice, involving human rights advocates, artists, and curators.

About the Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring (1958–1990) generously contributed his talents and resources to numerous causes. He conducted art workshops with children, created logos and posters for public service agencies, and produced murals, sculptures, and paintings to benefit health centers and disadvantaged communities. In 1989, heestablished a foundation to ensure that his philanthropic legacy would continue indefinitely.

The Keith Haring Foundation makes grants to not-for-profit entities that engage in charitable and educational activities. In accordance with Keith’s wishes, the Foundation concentrates its giving in two areas: The support of organizations that provide educational opportunities to young people and the support of organizations that engage in education, prevention, and care with respect to AIDS and HIV infection.

Keith Haring additionally charged the Foundation with maintaining and protecting his artistic legacy after his death. The Foundation maintains a collection of art along with archives that facilitate historical research about the artist and the times and places in which he lived and worked. The Foundation supports arts and educational institutions by funding exhibitions, educational programs, acquisitions, and publications that serve to contextualize and illuminate the artist’s work and philosophy.